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Ambitious, Just Add Water

Alice Hall-Partyka. Photo by Phil Channing.
Alice Hall-Partyka. Photo by Phil Channing.
Alice Hall-Partyka

Major: Environmental Studies

Activities: Co-president, Rainforest Ecology Institute; Member and Girl Scout Gold Award recipient, Girl Scouts of the USA; Community Service Participant, Rustic Pathways; Intern, USC Energy Institute

Soapsuds, rusty car motors, old gas cans, fast-food containers, and a ton of Styrofoam pollute the stream running from Hahamongna Water- shed Park to Cherry Canyon in La Cañada, Calif. 

Alice Hall-Partyka puts on her gloves and gets to work, hopping from rock to rock, untangling garbage from the plant life and clearing refuse from the water.

“It’s important to me that I don’t just sit around,” Alice says. “I want to feel that I’ve accomplished something.”

Alice is passionate about water issues. Eventually, she hopes to influence national water quality policies, a goal inspired by the culmination of her work with the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. She was awarded the Girl Scout Gold Award for her project, which required her to address a need in her community.

Tackling the stream in her hometown seemed like the perfect opportunity, especially when she discovered how few people actually know it exists. Long after earning the award, Alice still wakes early on Saturdays to pick up trash with volunteers she’s invited. After a morning of hard labor, several participants tell her they are surprised they enjoyed it so much and want to do it again.

“There will be plenty of opportunities,” Alice replies, and plans are made for the following week.

“I wanted to make sure that the stream wasn’t just clean for the six months I was working on the project,” says Alice, who estimates she and her team have cleared more than 1,000 pounds of debris from the stream.

Her ambition extends beyond Southern California. The project has developed her interest in world health issues as a result of poor water quality, particularly as it relates to children. After college, she plans to join the Peace Corps, and wants to build wells in Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa.

She ultimately hopes to work with new technologies that will make decontaminated water available on a global scale.

“Water perplexes me,” Alice says. “It’s something that we need to live, but it’s also killing so many people, whether from the bacteria, or simply a lack of water all together. There must be a solution.”


Read more articles from USC College Magazine's Fall 2010/Winter 2011 issue